Are You Ready?


People joke about zombies and the apocalypse.

Movies are made that depict the world coming to an end, and even if many say they don’t believe in God, the general consensus seems to be that the world will come to an end. Some think sooner, others, later; but it will end. Maybe you believe global warming will be the eventual culprit. Speculation says we may experience WWIII and an ensuing nuclear holocaust.

The Bible says that Jesus is returning for those who have accepted him as their savior and have given their lives to him.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 24, and in I Thessalonians, Jesus describes the events that will take place prior to his return. Wars, rumors of wars, plagues, drought, earthquakes in various places. Lawlessness will begin to take over the world, and many people will suddenly be aware of Jesus and desire him in their lives.

We’re not to be surprised by these things, but we should be ready.

Some people might decide to live off grid, build a tiny home and garden, or invest in bitcoin or gold. Physical and economical preparation isn’t a bad thing, but more than being prepared for hardship, we need to be prepared for Jesus.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 1 4:6

None of us know exactly when Jesus will return. It could be today or in two months or twenty years. But the day and hour aren’t the issue as much as our relationship with Jesus now. From the moment we say yes to him directing our lives, we are in a personal relationship with him which we want to develop. Spending time with him in worship, prayer, and reading his word will grow our relationship with him.

Eternity is the big picture, but he wants us to have a great, abundant life with him here on earth too.

So whether it’s for his return in the future, or our relationship here and now, are we ready?

He’s always at the door of our heart waiting for us to open it to him.

Waiting Well


Do you wait well?

Photo by Enric Cruz Lu00f3pez on Pexels.com

In line, in traffic, for good or bad news? What about for an answer, or promotion, or tax refund?

I confess, I can be impatient, irritated, or dismissive when I’m called on to wait for something. That may be part of why I’ve been entrusted with this season of waiting.

Since October, I’ve been waiting for God to heal me.

I have some mystery illness which my primary doctor has currently speculated might be seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. It has caused swelling all over my entire body (not just joints as is common), numbness in my hands and feet, rashes, dizziness, fatigue and constant pain – either aching, burning, or stabbing me randomly. Mostly at night. So I have a love/hate relationship with sleeping right now. Moving makes me blow up like a puffer fish. Resting causes me to not be able to move. And I’ve been waiting since December to see a rheumatologist. Apparently there aren’t many where I live, and even less that take my insurance.

Did you hear my snort of impatience right then?

Just to make it clear, I’m not complaining. I don’t really think doctors have answers. The few offered haven’t changed anything. (Diet, medicine, activity, etc.) My unique symptoms don’t really match any particular diagnosis. I believe God is my only answer. And I trust him completely. So I’m asking him to help me wait well while I wait for whatever good plan he has to be completed.

At some point, all of us might have to wait for many things – hasn’t this been a season of that? (Sorry to all you who are still waiting for your state or city to open up again!)

But do we know how to wait well?

Here are some of the things I do to wait well:

  • Every morning I choose to thank God for the day he made and rejoice and be glad in it.
  • I start each day with praising him, reading his word, and singing along with worship music.
  • I listen to prophetic words of encouragement.
  • I pray for others.
  • I proclaim what I know to be true about God.
  • I do whatever I am apply to accomplish and let go of the rest. Sometimes that means not washing my hair. (Yuck.)
  • I ask for help when I need it.
  • I let others know how to pray for me.
  • I keep writing books (even though it makes my hands and arms ache).

God is so faithful. He hasn’t allowed my healing to show itself yet (I believe I am healed and waiting for it to show up), but he has shown me so many things. I’m learning to be bolder in prayer. I’ve been alerted to some old resentments I didn’t realize I was harboring against someone who hurt my family. I’m learning to be slower to speak and better at listening. My compassion has increased.

And in the midst of it all, God has helped me write my next book. Yippee! As I write out the last pages, I’m sharing the beginning here with you. Where Blows the Wind is the sequel to When the Wind Blows and now part of a four book series that I never planned, but apparently God did.

So, I hope you enjoy this taste of Where Blows the Wind while you’re waiting for its release on June 15th in time for your summer reading pleasure.

Maybe it will help you wait well. 😉

Where Blows the Wind

The older man had no idea how Tyrina Louise Duval felt about family. How could he? And yet, here he was inviting her to join their gathering. His family of strangers. At least that was the way he put it. Although they all lived in the same building, the group had never met until Hurricane Harriet blew in less than a year ago. The connection between them was obvious. The longing in her heart nearly surpassed her hesitancy. But in the end, she thanked him kindly and turned to leave, flinging a yearning glance over her shoulder as she left.

Now she watched them from her third-floor balcony.

“Ralph Manning,” the man said when he introduced himself and offered to share their story. She imagined it was a remarkable one. No one would guess that the young couple with a baby and the man with the twenty-something girl—from the resemblance she assumed they were truly father and daughter—were not related to the elderly couple. He claimed they met there. Neighbors in this high-rise building of condos. Clearly, no matter how they met, they shared an uncommon love. Tyrina felt it when she walked by. Even from a distance.

Why hadn’t she stayed to listen?

She wanted to. Now she wished she had. To interact with a group that obviously cared so much for each other could only bring joy. Couldn’t it?

Observing them from the safety of her condominium evoked the old pain and longing while reaching an arm out to her with hope. A sad smile tugged at her mouth. Hope brought disappointment. She knew that feeling all too well.

Turning away from the scene below her, she brushed back a stray curl that had escaped from her braid. On humid days like this, her tawny hair tormented her with frizzy strands that barely remained contained in tight braids like the one she wore today. Otherwise, she let her springy locks hang loose down her back and shoulders. She finally learned about ten years ago that fighting her natural born curls was not worth the long hours and money wasted on product. Besides, she believed in being free. And she was trying to be. That included her hair.

Tyrina shook her head at her thoughts. How had her hair determined so much of her identity? For nearly a lifetime, it seemed it was her one claim to real beauty. As a youngster, when her light brown skin brought some snide comments from those lighter or darker than her, confusion took up residence in her heart. Even her grandmother hated that her ebony-skinned son had married a white girl. Tyrina didn’t understand. How could the color of someone’s skin make a difference as to who they were inside?

Confusion ruled her life for as long as she could remember, and not belonging dictated it from the beginning.

Tyrina shook off the reverie.

It was a beautiful afternoon. Exactly the reason she had gone out in the first place. Until she observed the group with Ralph and his friends celebrating something, she’d planned on spending a few hours outside in the warm, but not too hot weather. In late August, cooler days were infrequent in Southwest Florida, so residents took advantage whenever a breezy day lowered the temperature to a reasonable setting. A walk around the grounds or at Fort Myers Beach after church on Sundays gave her time to reflect on the pastor’s message. Every week it seemed that he spoke to her directly. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. She knew it was the way God let her receive the words.

But the past few weeks, no matter what he said, or what she read in her Bible, nothing landed right. Restlessness stirred in her and wouldn’t be quelled.

Where Are We Leading?


"And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness." Ezra 9:2

Let’s face it, we are all a leader of someone.

Because each of us knows more or less than someone else, we will always be following and learning–or leading. Think about it. Ar you a parent? An older sibling? A friend helping a friend? Maybe you are the boss or supervisor at work, or the guy who’s been there a month and is showing a newer one the ropes.

We may not think of ourself as a leader, but we are. By default.

Someone will always be watching our life. Our decisions, words, and actions impact lives around us every day. Whether we like it or not, we are leading.

So, if that’s the case? Where are we leading?

There were some specific guidelines that God gave his people back in the day. The rules were intended to help and protect the people. Like speed limits or stop lights (ignored by many where I live) are meant to help the flow of traffic and keep drivers safe. But the problem was that the leaders in those days were leading the way into doing the very things that were hurting the people.

Hmm…sounds like our world today. Some things never change. The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun. So true.

We’ve witnessed leaders and officials living and promoting harmful practices. Sexual misconduct, abortion, lawless violence are only a few of the hurtful activities we’ve watched leaders participate in or promote. It might be easy to point our finger at them, and they should be called to account. But what about us? Where are we leading?

Whether it’s engaging in illegal practices or taking something from work, we are setting an example. Regardless if no one sees us, our behavior will eventually come out in how it affects our attitude and words. Even our tone of voice can impact those around us. Ever notice how when we’re feeling off, we can speak sharply to our spouse, children or co-worker and create a bad situation where none was there previously?

I love how the Bible shows us the answer to this dilemma.

In Ezra 10:1, it says that Ezra was praying, confessing, weeping, and laying on the ground before God because of the unfaithfulness of the people. The cool thing is that the people who saw this followed his lead. The men, women and children gathered around him and “wept bitterly too.” Ezra was a spiritual leader in his time, and people followed his example of repentance.

We are leaders.

Are we leading into unfaithfulness or repentance? And who are we leading there?

Let’s also remember to pray for those in authority. The people leading us need help and the wisdom of God. They need clear direction so they can lead into good, helpful, positive places that will not bring harm. They must consider their ways carefully because people are watching and following.

We all need to humbly consider who’s watching us. Are we leading into life? Or a path to destruction and death?

Where are we leading?

The Many Sides of Tragedy


Everyone has their own perspective…

(Sara) Snippets of memories flashed. Bedroom exploits that had left her in tears. Rude comments and innuendos that confused her. And Brad’s many disappearances without explanation over the past six years of their marriage. Too numerous in these last few months to count anymore. They bombarded her with a sudden vengeance. She fought them off, but knew, deep in her soul, things had not ever been as they seemed.

No.

She couldn’t go there. Wouldn’t allow it. This would ruin everything. Her ideal family. Sure, things weren’t as great as she hoped. But she wasn’t going to entertain these intrusions into the life she fought so hard to maintain every day.

What does this say about you?

The whisper caught her off guard. A cry rose in her throat, but she forced it down. She knew the answer. It was her fault. No matter how hard she tried she would never be good enough.

(Brad)Why couldn’t he form the words? Say no. Throw her out? His mind played fantasies with Shaneel as the leading role. Pictures, movie scenes, videos rushed in on him as if in an attack. A luscious, sensuous, surrender-now barrage. Where had they come from? But he knew the answer before the question finished forming in his mind. He’d gorged himself on those images for years. Now they turned against him.

Shaneel’s touch burned his arm with a heat that set him ablaze.

Brad caught a glimpse of the picture he kept on his desk. His family smiled at him. Sara stared. He pushed his chair back. Away from the heat of the moment and the seductress taunting him.

(Lucinda)Pastor Lucinda Bell watched Sara until the kids’ entrance swallowed her up. Something about the young mother tugged at her heart. Appearances deceived, and she didn’t believe what she observed. To her, Sara’s cry for help was written all over her face. And not simply because of the couple of little mascara smudges left over from tears. The fact that her husband was obviously missing today also added to her concern.

She breathed in deeply and exhaled a prayer, hoping and pleading with Jesus that Sara would visit her in the next few days. Something wasn’t right in that family. Perhaps God would use her to help.

(Faith)Faith picked up her phone, started a text and erased it. Again. For the third time.

Ever since being with Sara at the hospital, a niggling sense of dread pushed at her to have a hard conversation with her new friend. But the right words didn’t materialize. Of course she’d taken over a couple of dinners, watched Boyd and Jasmine and sat with Sara chatting about babies and feeding schedules.

How could she put words to the unsettled feeling in the pit of her stomach? She’d glimpsed the awful bruising one day when she had stopped by to bring dinner, and Sara needed some help getting Taren situated on her lap for feeding. But Sara evaded her gentle questions and regaled stories of Brad’s loving helpfulness during her recovery. What if she was wrong? Could she be imagining the worst?

Find out the rest of the story in A Deadly Silence. Coming soon on Amazon.

Need Divine Intervention?


We can all run to God on our own.

But sometimes we need the help and prayers of a friend. There’s something about another person joining us in asking God to be with us that makes it real, encouraging and relieving.

Mary DeMuth’s new release, Jesus Every Day, offers us that friendly hand on our shoulder with a heartfelt prayer for our day. Mary shares prayers she’s spoken to God with real, struggling, grateful words that touch our souls and make us feel as if we have someone who can relate to our cries for help.

And now Mary is taking her encouragement a step further.

Each day, you can listen to her new Pray Every Day podcast during which she shares a verse and talk to the Lord as he puts words on her heart. You will be encouraged and uplifted as you hear this woman of faith pour out prayers on your behalf.

Join her here.

And don’t forget to get a copy of Jesus Every Day as well.

Why Pray?


Have you ever asked yourself that question?IMG_0368

I don’t mean in a skeptical, it-won’t-do-anything kind of way. What I’m talking about is that deep searching of what prayer means. It’s not like God needs us to tell him what’s going on in our lives. He knows everything. And he knows what we need, so do we need to remind him? Besides, He is God Almighty, creator of the universe and the one who holds everything together and controls it all. Does he need our input?

So what is the purpose of prayer then?

Well, I asked Him. After all, in James he tells us if we lack wisdom to ask and he will give it to us. So I asked. And I guess that is the first purpose of prayer. God wants to give us things and he’s waiting for us to ask. He says if we ask, we will receive. And wisdom is a good thing to start with. But sometimes we can feel like we’re asking Santa for a Christmas list, and that’s not the point. Even though God longs to give us the desires of our heart.

I thought there was something more.

Partnership is a concept we’ve discussed in church. A former pastor, Daniel Brown, used to describe God wanting to partner with us in doing his will. Like a father asking his son to help him take out the trash. Dad doesn’t need his little boy’s help, but it’s about the relationship. Doing something together. I like that.

But, I still believed there was even more.

So when I asked, I was reminded of the Lord’s Prayer. We call it that because it is how Jesus told us to pray. Hmm…maybe there’s something in that.

I grew up reciting that prayer as a rote tradition. Even singing it, while deeply moving, didn’t impart the depth of it’s meaning to me. But the day I asked Jesus about praying, this is what struck me…

If God is all about us talking to him, and asking him for things, and partnering with us, then maybe praying that prayer would look something like this (translation my own):

Our Father, who is in heaven, I praise your holy name! I honor you as Almighty God. You are so holy! You are so worthy of my praise. Because You want to do good things for us, I invite you to bring your kingdom into my life and do your will just as you have purposed it already in heaven because you are great and good and have wonderful things planned for me. Whatever that is, I want it, so I ask you for it. Please, Lord God, I ask that your kingdom would come here to earth. That your will would be done here on earth. And please, since you know all I need, will you provide it. Just for today? I won’t worry about tomorrow, but trust you to give me what I need today. And about forgiveness, Lord. You forgive me for everything so will you please make me willing and able to forgive others the same way? Thank you that temptation is never from you. Will you please deliver us from evil? That awful enemy, Satan, who is looking to distract us from you and destroy our lives? I know you can and will do all this because your kingdom is glorious and powerful, and you love me so very much.

What do you think?

I’ve begun to pray this way, acknowledging who God is and inviting him to bring his kingdom to earth. That his will would be done in my life, in my home, my marriage, my children’s and family members’ lives, my friend’s lives, in my church, community, city, state and nation, as well as the world. Because if I believe God is who he says he is then I have to be open to and accepting of what he wants to do here on earth.

And I’m seeing incredible things happening.

Not always what I expect, but always great and good. In my life, my husband’s life, our marriage and family. Truly amazing.

God is a gentleman and never forces us. But he longs to do good for us, with us and through us. As soon as we invite him, remembering who he is and what is truly important, he will bring his kingdom to us.

I challenge you to give this a try and let me know what you see happen in your life.